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    Posted: 12-Jun-2009 at 01:11
Throughout history, armies have altered the battlefield to gain advantage, whether by digging potholes in the ground to deter enemy cavalry (as Robert the Bruce did at Bannockburn)
or by quickly constructing temporary forts - as the romans did routinely. This was a practice also favored by the Maori during the New Zealand Land Wars.

This thread is meant to examine and recognize the advantages and disadvantages of various types of fortification, and the situations in which they could or could not be used.

Starting with the standard "pothole" defense.

This method could be utilized almost anywhere, and was comparatively inexpensive in labor and time. However, while holes in the ground are excellent for deterring cavalry, they no not physically prevent a javelin (for instance) from entering one's body cavity. They channel enemy forces, but do not block their ranged weapons or their infantry. However, since cavalry can be an extremely important section of the military, preventing full application of the cavalry may be enough to ensure victory.

Who is the great dragon whom the spirit will no longer call lord and god? "Thou shalt" is the name of the great dragon. But the spirit of the lion says, "I will." - Nietzsche

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Knights Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12-Jun-2009 at 01:27
Well if we are thinking of the same type of pothole defense, then they have the very important advantage of not just essentially halting cavalry charges (as you mentioned) but also infantry. Despite not having the momentum of cavalry, infantry still need to stop and weave their way through potholes defenses - whilst in addition, having to look at the ground rather than up and ahead of them. In any case, it's the usual story of increased advantage in diversification (like using combined arms in battle): a range of field fortifications complementary to each other are best.

Hopefully at some point in this thread we'll get to discuss the brilliance of Sulla with field fortifications - pure genius. 

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TheARRGH Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12-Jun-2009 at 01:38
True, but to really take on infantry, I know I'd prefer to have a good wall and/or deep pit dug, rather than small holes. True, they slow the opponent down, but it takes a lot less effort for an organized, dedicated army to pick their way through holes than to take down or swarm over even an eight-to-ten foot earthen rampart...although as you said, a combination is always best.

From what I've heard of the Gallic Wars, Caesar was by no means unimpressed by the Celt's ability to fortify a location...the Murus Gallicus (wooden palisade set into stone, being resistant against both fire and siege engine) apparently was something he really hadn't seen before. One wonders why the Celts would - normally - need a fortification that powerful. They weren't known to use heavy weaponry, although one of Caesar's lieutenants discovered that they were pretty fast learners when they laid full-blown siege to his fort. Then again, having a good, thick, wall between you and your opponents is always good, even if they don't have a panoply of catapults.


 


Who is the great dragon whom the spirit will no longer call lord and god? "Thou shalt" is the name of the great dragon. But the spirit of the lion says, "I will." - Nietzsche

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Knights Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12-Jun-2009 at 01:46
Yes I'm sure they would have tagged onto some of Caesar's innovations and used them for themselves. One wonders where they specifically got the idea for the murus gallicus (=Gallic wall?) you mentioned though, if they didn't get it from the Romans. I mean, not to downplay them, but the Celts didn't typically come up with things like that.

We see field fortifications and earthworks for defensive purposes, all the time; what is really cool, is manipulating the topography for offensive purposes. Enter Sulla, at Orchomenos. Cool

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TheARRGH Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12-Jun-2009 at 02:43
Indeed...The battle of orchomenus, where the terrifying power of ditches was displayed. No irony intended; they really are quire brutal. :D

The Murus Gallicus (Gallic Wall) was apparently, as far as anyone knows, invented before the Roman Conquest...the La Tene period, which ran up until the invasion. While it COULD have been a result of contact with greeks or romans, Caesar seems rather surprised, or at least impressed, when descrivbing it - presumably, if it was a feature of Mediterranean cultures, he would have at least heard of it before.

The gauls likely would have, at the very least, known how to make and use battering rams, which Caesar specifically states are easily foiled by the wall. And while few records exist of the Gauls using catapults and other field artillery, they did use such things (albeit probably copied from the romans) during Ambiorix's revolt.
Who is the great dragon whom the spirit will no longer call lord and god? "Thou shalt" is the name of the great dragon. But the spirit of the lion says, "I will." - Nietzsche

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